Part one of a three part series on the first step to recovery.

Step One:“We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable”

The definition of an addict according to Narcotics Anonymous basic text is “a man or woman whose life is controlled by drugs” (Narcotics Anonymous Sixth Edition, 2008). However this definition does not encompass what makes an addict an addict.

It does not matter what your substance of choice is, whether you use food, sex or work excessively. The common denominator with all addicts is the inability to deal with life on life’s terms, specifically emotions.

Why do Addicts feel they use?

As human beings, we are all animals at the very core. And as such, an animal will do whatever is necessary to eliminate pain. If an animal is caught in a trap it may chew its own leg off to escape even though this may result in its own demise.

This concept is true of humans. Although, in human beings, the most common source of pain is the emotional turmoil as a result of life events.

Therefore, using this concept, if a person does not have the tools or skills to deal with emotional pain in a healthy way, then that person will look for another way to silence the pain even though it may cost their life.

Most addicts look to drugs or alcohol to escape the pain. Eventually what was initially a source of escape becomes a prison in which many addicts never escape.

When does a person become an “addict”?

Using mind or mood altering substances begins to cause problem in some areas of life. Maybe an intimate relationship becomes rocky. Maybe productivity at work decreases. Eventually, it is not just one area of life that is affected. It begins to consume and affect every aspect of life.

Many addicts have held the belief that as long as they are making it to work and meeting basic needs, then they are “social users”. There is often the belief that “I can handle this” or “I only use socially”. There is no such thing as a “Social Addict”.

These beliefs become deeper as the addiction progresses. Suddenly, “everyone is against me” and “my family just doesn’t understand me” and finally “I don’t need anyone”. An addict needs to justify using. There must be a reason and rationalization to justify using.

By this point an addict is completely isolated. The need to use and the ways and means to find and use more drugs becomes the obsession. Husbands, wives and children are no longer relevant. All that matters is the drug and how to get and use more. If left untreated addiction is often fatal, however it is 100% treatable.

When addiction takes over

Addiction is often seen a disease that affects every aspect of a person: physical, mental and spiritual. The physical addiction is the compulsive use of drugs. Once started, an addict cannot stop.

The mental addiction is the obsession or desire to use even though the addict recognizes that it is destroying their life.

Finally, the spiritual aspect affected by active addiction is the total and complete self-centeredness of the using addict.

Come back next week for part 2 of this series.